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Former President Donald Trump recently made yet another series of antisemitic comments about American Jews, cementing his place as a politician who claims support for Israel while denigrating those who have a genuine connection with the country. Speaking to Israeli journalist Barak Ravid, the only president to be impeached twice claimed that American Jews — most of whom vote Democratic — “either don’t like Israel or don’t care about Israel.”
The former President, whose daughter Ivanka converted to Judaism before marrying Jared Kushner, has long pledged support for Israel and its more politically conservative public officials, such as former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during his tenure in the White House. Mr. Netanyahu, known for his extreme nationalism and religious right-wing ideals, was eventually replaced by more politically mainstream Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
Meanwhile, Mr. Trump has often painted Jewish people with a very broad brush, despite the myriad of beliefs and faith practices among the population. While many American Jews identify within specific Jewish organizations, contemporary Jews are not a monolith and are incensed at being lumped together under the auspices of disliking Israel.
In response to Mr. Trump’s inflammatory outburst, the American Jewish Committee asked, “Why is Mr. Trump once again fueling dangerous stereotypes about Jews? His past support for Israel doesn’t give him license to traffic in radioactive antisemitic tropes – or peddle unfounded conclusions about the unbreakable ties that bind American Jews to Israel. Enough!”
Mr. Trump’s antisemitic comments also moved beyond American Jews into his thoughts about Jewish representation in Congress. “It used to be that Israel had absolute power over Congress,” he said, “and today I think it’s the exact opposite.” He then blamed Presidents Barack Obama and Joe Biden for the shift he erroneously believes to exist within American politics.
This is not the first time the twice-impeached former occupant of the White House has made such bold and ridiculous statements. In fact, his words are almost identical to the theory which he peddled at a 2019 rally with an audience full of Republican American Jews.
However, his more recent claims went even further than what he said in 2019. Stating that American Jews dislike Israel, he went on to boldly suggest Evangelical Christians provide more support to the country. “I’ll tell you, the evangelical Christians love Israel more than the Jews in this country.”
Mr. Trump then went on a series of antisemitic tangents, with barbs directed specifically at the New York Times. “They’re Jewish people that run the New York Times,” he stated without backing up his outlandish claims, following up with claims that the newspaper “hates Israel.”
The New York Times is owned by The New York Times Company. It is a publicly-traded entity that includes editors and writers from many faith backgrounds.
Mr. Trump’s claims were widely panned by Jewish people across the globe. “Insinuating that Israel or the Jews control Congress or the media is antisemitic, plain and simple,” said Jonathan Greenblatt of the Anti-Defamation League. “Unfortunately, this is not the first time he has made these offensive remarks.”
Such offensive remarks also place American Jews in danger of retaliation, as Mr. Trump enjoys vast power over his more extreme supporters. Hate crimes against Jews increased exponentially during his one-term presidency, and in 2019 American Jews recorded the largest number of antisemitic hate crimes since the ADL began collecting data, in 1980.
Qasim Rashad, a human rights attorney and radio host, noted “While American Jews represent only 2% of Americans, FBI data shows Jews suffer more than 60% of religiously motivated hate crimes. Donald Trump’s reckless antisemitism further endangers Jewish Americans.”